Panera Eyes Delivery Opportunity With Dinner

Panera Bread

In an effort that could bring delivery opportunities, Panera Bread has been experimenting with a menu for dinner at a Jacksonville, Florida restaurant. The quick-service restaurant (QSR) is extending the test in July to nine Lexington, Kentucky locations, CNBC reported.

The report noted that dinner is a popular time for delivery orders and pointed out that the chain taps into its own delivery drivers in lieu of teaming with another company. Panera’s Chief Growth and Strategy Officer Dan Wegiel said, according to the outlet, “We definitely saw for delivery an opportunity with dinner, but it flagged as something we could unlock further for sure.”

Over 60 percent of the company’s delivery orders, as it stands, occur at the time of lunch hours. And, while the outlet noted that share could shift in the event the retailer rolls out the dinner menu across the country, Wegiel noted that the main driver for taking on a new strategy was not dinner delivery orders.

Wegiel noted that many diners view the company’s salads, soups and sandwiches as fare that is too light for a dinner meal even though it has created a strong lunch awareness.

As a result, the QSR company added options that would be available following 4:30 p.m. that are heartier like bowls and flatbread pizzas. At the same time, however, the meals come with some familiar ingredients: A chipotle chicken and bacon artisan flatbread has the same chipotle mayo as a breakfast wrap and one of its sandwiches.

The news comes as the online food delivery market is booming. Its projected value is set to be in the tens of billions of dollars — $55 billion, to be exact — by 2022, per one estimate. (And the annual value of the space for pizza delivery alone is $7 billion — many slices.) And diners are swapping out the phone call for apps, with 6.6 percent of all restaurant orders coming from digital channels as of 2017. Digital orders outpaced phone orders, which stood at 5 percent, for the first time as well.